'The shortest distance between 15 sets of traffic lights'
September 27 saw the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Birmingham
New Road. In a retrospective feature, the Express & Star had mixed
opinions. We recalled how some had dubbed it "the killer road" while
for others it was "the shortest distance between 15 sets of traffic
Opened by the then Prince of Wales (later the Duke of Windsor)
in 1927, the road had been intended to speed up traffic between
Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
The Express & Star hailed it as "a bracing story of the triumph
of imagination and faith over what at one time appeared to be insuperable
But as traffic volumes grew beyond the dreams of the 1920s planners,
the New Road took a terrible toll in its first 50 years.
In 1976 alone it had claimed eight lives and left 40 people seriously
In 1938, recalled the newspaper, the West Bromwich coroner, Lyon
Clark, had described the road as "bewitched." In ten years, he said,
he had investigated 100 deaths. It was the most dangerous road he
had ever known.
The trees planted along the road near Coseley are in memory of
the local men who were killed in the First World War. Some people
wrongly believed that they commemorated the road's own victims.